Danskbrogd – a Norwegian Textile technique

The Norwegian Textile Letter is a free online quarterly publication that covers – as the name suggests – a wide variety of Scandinavian textile arts.  Both the current issue and previous issues dating back to 1994 are available online as pdfs, and they make for fascinating reading.

The current issue is part one of a two-parter (part two publishes on Aug 22nd) that covers the Danskbrogd technique for weaving coverlets.  This technique is defined both by its originating location (Vest Agder, Norway) and by the geometric patterns that are woven in widthwise.  Danskbrogd, A Rich Heritage from a Small Area is the first article in part one, and includes a good overview including some lovely exemplars.  The last picture they include is of a modern design featuring honeycomb and bees.

I have some warp in a warp chain.  I need to get it on a loom and play with it.


The Art of Yami Yamauchi

When I posted briefly about Yama Yamauchi’s fireworks model, which is a flexible origami model that looks much like fireworks do, I neglected to include the link to the folding pattern.  Yama Yamauchi in fact has a whole set of web pages with patterns, that can be reached from Yami’s Corner.


But that sends you down the rabbit hole to find other flexagons, such as the tutorial at Flexagon Instructions.

And there goes my work day …

Lucet; the art of using a single string to make … a thicker string?

A lucet is used to make a kind of cord; usually lucets have two prongs, and a hole in the body that the cord is pulled through. It’s almost a flattened knitting nelly with only two prongs. The simple lucet technique, then, has the thread going around the prongs in turn, and each time – just as with the knitting nelly – the previous loop is pulled over the top loop. A lot of time is usually spent maneauvering the bottom loop over the top loop and sometimes a crochet hook or similar is used to maneuver the string around. Suffice it to say that the resulting technique is not fast.

Two lucet cords in progressAnd then yesterday I found a video online – Fastgrab Lucet method – which promised a much faster lucetting experience.  The general idea is that you don’t actually place the top loop around the lucet; instead, you hold the lucet in your left hand and the string in your right, much as if you were knitting, and use use your forefinger to scoop up the loop and pull it over the prong, and then turn the lucet clockwise to tighten things; this step is repeated until Court is over, the soccer game ends, you run out of chord, and the kitten eats your bobbin.  The important step here is to make sure that the string from the bobbin or cone is in front of the prong, and that you scooped up the loop from beneath. Shades of finger loop braiding in the movement.  As you maneuver the loop over the prong, you simultaneously tighten the loop in the center between the two prongs, thus “knitting” one more step.

To be honest, the video linked above shows it better than I can describe it.

20/2 vs 602 silk lucet cord

But as you can see in the picture above, because you’re now working with loops in the center of the lucet, where maneuvering is easier (if not always easy) it is possible to use thinner and thinner threads. The white thread is 20/2 silk, and as that was my first experiment, the cording is a little uneven, but that’s well over half a yard, and about 40 minutes work. The red silk is 60/2 silk and while I do have to pay attention to what I’m doing, I’m finding that the cord works up fairly rapidly.  For scale, that lucet is 4 inches long and maybe an eighth of an inch thick. This is the thickness of silk I usually use when I’m working on blackwork, or when I’m feeling masochistic and need a tabletweaving project with tiny threads.  Admittedly, I’ve gone thinner (120/2) but in both all three of those cases I please momentary insanity that only lasted two years per project.

Playing with Baltic Pickup style inkle weaving (Part 2)

Baltic Pickup GamesSo I spent some time this weekend playing with the Baltic inkle pickup warp.  The rules of the game were simple: two repeats of the simple diamond with the 4 interior diamonds, alternating with a diamond with some other free-styled pattern.

By keeping the edging pattern between the diamonds and the outer diamond’s dimensions consistent, the band feels cohesive, even though every third diamond is something else.  Below are 16 possible variations I came up with, while enjoying a Columbo marathon.

Variations on a ThemeOh, and just one more thing … there are 25 places where the warp thread can be pushed down, or not, inside the diamond.  That means that there are 2^25= 33554432 possible combinations, but I’m guessing that many of them lack pleasing symmetries.


Back of the envelop suggests that requiring symmetry along one diagonal reduces the possibilities to about 2^10+2^5=1024+32=1056 (the places below the diagonal line plus the diagonal line), but then the diagonal line can itself be flipped …  But the “S” figures are flipped around a vertical or horizontal line; so there are 4 possible axis of symmetry, so 4*1056= 4224 possible combinations that are symmetric.

In short, back of the envelop suggests that I’m going to run out of warp before I run out of possibilities.

Playing with Baltic Pickup style inkle weaving

Threading diagramBaltic pickup style inkle is woven using background threads and pickup threads; the pickup threads are usually either thicker, or doubled up.  In the threading diagram, you can see how each pickup thread is place between two threads in the opposite heddle; the white boxes representing the pickup threads.  In the diagram one row represents the heddled threads and the other the open threads, and the rows aren’t labeled since it actually doesn’t matter which is which in this case, so why complicate things?


The patterns here use 17 background threads; the 5 leftmost and rightmost threads are woven over a green background, while the middle 7 pick up threads lie nestled between dark blue background threads.  The plan is to eventually experiment with the Kostrup patterns, since those are 17 cards wide also, but I needed simple patterns to weave while out and about Monday.

The current patterns are simple diamonds, and by weaving them upside down I only ever have to drop threads from the current row, rather than having to pick up.  In the pattern (Baltic Diamonds) squares with circles in them are the pickup threads that are high in each row.  If a pickup thread is high but has a grey background, then it gets dropped, resulting in the front patterns we see on the left below.

Small Diamonds (back side)Small Diamonds (front side)This is what the pattern with the small diamonds looks like; the predominantly green/blue side is what you see while weaving, the white side is the underside which is much harder to photograph while on the loom.







Large Diamonds (back side)Large Diamonds (front side)Here I was working with larger diamonds, and experimenting a little with alternate patterns like the diamond in a diamond and the inner cross.  Making the outside diamond a little smaller results in a 2×2 grid of the smaller diamonds, or a 3×3 grid of the larger, and then it’s just a matter of dropping a few extra threads here and there.








Final update on the Kostrup weaving

Sunday was the moment the weaving came off the loom. Total woven length is 1.36m.  And the wool used in the brocading is the same weight as the wool used in the weaving, except that the brocade uses doubled threads.  For the weft I used 60/2 silk, and in a next product I might go thinner still.

Kostrup weaving fresh off the loom

As you can see from this first picture, I handled the colour changes by cutting the brocading thread at the end of each colour.  Each woolen brocade thread passed through one weft after it’s done brocading; given the stickiness of this wool, that should be more than enough to anchor it in place. In some cases, like the small triangles, you use two colours at the same time; even beating extra hard I struggled to get both brocading wefts to lie in the weft without a smidge of gappage.  In a next attempt, I think it might be better for those areas if the brocading weft does not go the width of the band, but instead goes only part way.


On the other hand, once the band relaxed off the loom, the occasional gaps between successive lines of brocading improved already.
Kostrup weaving with threads trimmedTrimming the ends of the brocading threads carefully,  you can see that the brocading threads are visible on the back only where it moves from pick to pick; I dropped the brocading threads two cards from the edge (or halfways through the 4 card selvage), so that there wouldn’t be any colourful bumps on the very end.

Next step is to take it to the post office tomorrow and mail it off, and then I want to experiment with some pattern variations.

Continuing the Kostrup weaving part 3

Progress on weavingProgress remains painfully slow, although the netting needles have helped tremendously in picking out the pattern, and I have finally developed a rhythm of sorts.

By evening last night I had finished the first 30 cm, which was one repeat of the patterns in the paper.  I’m going to weave about a 3cm break and then repeat the set of patterns.  Three repeats should get me pretty close to a meter.

The biggest problem so far is that the wool sticks to itself, and so I am having to reverse direction sooner than I am used to, just to keep the wool from felting.

Well, that and occasionally a card sneaks in a quarter turn, and it takes me a while to notice and fix it.

Tabletweaving for the Kostrup smokkr: Part 2

So once the skeins of wool were wound up  into balls it was time to warp the loom.  The trim that I am trying to reproduce was 1.2 cm wide, on 17 cards that were each threaded with 2 threads.  It looked like there was selvage in the picture, so I added 4 cards of selvage, and alternated the threading of the selvage cards, as well as the pattern cards.   By alternating the threading direction (or rather, warping and then flipping every other card) the ribbon should naturally lie flat.


Brocading Kostrup: the beginning When you zoom in on the picture you can see the interesting weaving structure created by the missed hole threading in the pattern tablets. The weft is a navy 60/2 silk and just about invisible on the edges, and the brocading threads are doubled threads of the 20/2 wool,  dropped down below two cards from the edge so that you don’t see them at the edge.  Right now the ends are also visible; those will be trimmed flush with the band when it comes off the loom.

What I find particularly interesting is the effect of the weaving structure on the diagonal edges of the brocading; for instance in the cross over X part of the yellow fish it looks like two rows have the same end point, but they don’t.  I think this effect is due to the fact that the threads in each card are basically floating two above and two below, which affects the appearance.

What I find more frustrating is that the emergency brocading shuttle I’m using – a tatting shuttle whose bobbins can be traded out – is not really long enough and difficult to manipulate with the left hand, making every second row trickier.  This is exacerbated by the pattern cards’ desire to shift …

Unless I find a way to speed up, this is going to be one of those projects where the pace is measured in cm per hour.  So far, roughly 2 cm per hour.

Another Program in Another Lab …

Sometimes I like to rewrite the words of songs … often those of musicals. In this case, Evita’s “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”

I don’t expect my programs to compile at first,
Never fool myself that my typing is true.
Being used to errors, I anticipate it,
But all the same I hate it, wouldn’t you?

Eva: So what’s compiling now?
Che: Another program in another lab …
Eva: So what’s compiling now?
Che: Printf, echo, take another stab…
Eva: Where is this silly bug?
Che: You’ll compile, you always have before …
Eva: Where is this silly bug?

Time and time again, I’ve said it’s in NP,
That it just can’t be done, in polynomial time,
But every time we argue, all the proofs desert me,
And back I go trying, one more time …


Call in three months time, I’ll be fine, I know,
The problem solved, though the code might be slow.
I won’t recall the names and places of this complication
But that’s no consolation here and now …

[chorus – but now Che’s lines are sung by nerdlets]

Tabletweaving for the Kostrup smokkr: Part 1

A bartering agreement has been made, and I will be trying to recreate the tabletwoven band that sits between the brooches but above the pleated fabric of the actual smokkr, as described in the paper The aprondress from Køstrup (grave ACQ).
Step one was acquisition of the wool; I will be going with commercially dyed wool since this needs to be done by late May (which is sooner than it sounds).  I bought 20/2 Mora wool in four colours: blue for the background and then white, yellow, and red for the brocading.  As you can see from the pictures below, I may have a slight surfeit of the brocading wool.  Luckily wool can be used for more than one project at a time, no?

Wool_As_It_Arrived_From_StoreThis is how the wool arrives from the vendor; in skeins that need to be wound off into balls to be useful for warping.






Step two was turning the acquired skeins of yarn into something I could warp.  Swift and ball winder to the rescue.  Note that the swift is constructed similarly to an old Viking horizontal swift, and is made entirely of wood, with the exception of the metal washer I added to facilitate the turning of the arms.  The ball winder, in contrast, is thoroughly modern but faster than a nostepinne.  And while it’s sunny, it’s not that warm outside.


Wool_on_SwiftSwift_Plus_BallWinderThe skein is mounted on a horizontal swift and then the end is found.  After untying the skein, the end is fed into a ball winder and the turning begins.  Each skein was wound into four very roughly equal balls of wool; sizes were eyeballed.

The advantage of having four balls is that I can quickwarp, when I get t that stage.



Wool_Wound_In_BallsSeveral hours later, all four skeins have been turned into center-pull balls of wool, ready for the next stage.






To be continued …